Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Top Chef Texas Episode 5 Previews

Click here for Preview 1
Click here for Preview 2.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Texas Episode 4

Minxeats on the Quickfire: "This week we had both Battle Chile-with-an-E and Battle Chili-with-an-I. For the Quickfire, the cheftestants had to chose a variety of chile pepper and create a dish around it. For their convenience, there was a tote board listing the heat factor of each variety available, presented in Scoville units, along with the potential monetary value--if the chef used that particular chile in a winning dish--presented in dollars. Sensibly, the hotter the chile, the more money a chef could win."

Jordan Baker on 24: "Back. 10:48 p.m. The chefs are getting tired. Edward knocks a wine bottle against the wall to get out the cork. Some people jump into the pool. Chuy dances. Chuy tells stories. Chuy gets pantsed. 1:16 a.m. 3:08 a.m. The black team is finished with their chili. Nyesha thinks they’ve made something special. The white team is determined to stay up. Ty-Lor is sleeping with his eyes open. At 5;12, Sarah jumps in the shower."

A Just Recompense on the Quickfire winner: "Paul is the only one to take the ghost chili; he wants to impress the judges (or kill them, depending on how it works out). He serves chilled coconut soup with kaffir lime and ghost pepper relish. Padma asks if he chose the ghost pepper for the money; he says yes, but also to show his skill. The judges give him no feedback, so he’s worried. But he wins. The dish was delicious, and they love that he went for the ghost pepper. He wins $20,000 and immunity."

Max the Girl on tears: "Then Beverly cries again. (Obviously, Beverly crying at random intervals will be a recurring theme this entire season.) She cried at the Quinceañera because her father wasn’t there. Now she is crying at the rodeo, because. . . her husband isn’t there. 'There’s no crying in cooking,' Nyesha says. (Which also might explain how Tom C. kept such a poker face after being completely emasculated by Padma.)"

Cliffieland on quotation marks: Well, here's where it gets 'interesting.' And by 'interesting' I mean 'sadistic.' After having stayed up all night cooking chili and stressing out for hours over serving it and being judged ... and having to endure a show of animal testicle shocking (known in local parlance as 'a rodeo'), the three bottom chefs are charged with taking their 'losing' chili and repurposing it as something else."

Entertainment Weekly on Chris C.'s comparison: "Padma took to the center of the pit on a horse, prompting Chris Crary to deliver the quote of the night. He said, 'Seeing Padma on a horse is like seeing Fabio on the cover of one of his romance novels with his hair blowing in the wind. It's just pure beauty.' WHAT??!!"

Gail Simmons for PopWatch on the sudden-death cookoff: "I think [the elimination round] went as well as it could have. The reason we did it was very specific. It wasn’t just to be a–holes. It really was because when you cook chili, it is such a complex, cohesive one-pot meal that it’s very hard to then differentiate what everyone’s jobs were. So, instead of going through and listening to them describe what they did, we decided, in order to keep the playing field fair, we’d give them one more chance. They cooked all together as a team for the chili, but in order to figure out who the right person was to go home, we had them cook individually."

CultureMob on all-night-cooking: "The chefs are, for the most part, deciding to stay up all night and cook their chili. Chuy gets drunk and boasts about how muscular he was when he graduated high school. He looks like he’s about 15, so I can’t imagine that was all that long ago."

My Monkey Could Do That hates team challenges: "For the Elimination challenge, we are having a chili cook-off. Interesting. Everyone gets a pot, because of course there are teams. WHY?!?! I don’t want to have team challenges all the damn time. I mean, none would be boring, and I won’t pretend I don’t like the drama, but if you’re going to have a team challenge every week then it’s obvious you’re only doing it in hopes of a fight. And it does get really boring."

Foodie Buddha offers this weeks culinary definitions, for your reading pleasure.

Don't forget to check Top Chef Refire's podcast!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with Richie Farina

Top Chef Texas contestant Richie Farina talks about his experience on the Bravo show.

Richie and Chris Jones are both working at Moto in Chicago.

One notable dish is the "Cuban Cigar," a Cuban sandwich that looks like a cigar and arrives at the table served in an ashtray complete with edible "ash."

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Top Chef DVDs at Target

Looking for Top Chef DVDs for yourself or a fellow Top Chef fan on your holiday gift-giving list? Target has an exclusive deal with Bravo to sell most of the TC DVDs, and our Bravo sources tell us the All Stars (Season 8) DVD is now available at Target. We've been keeping an eye out on Target's website and haven't seen it offered online yet. But alert reader Melissa recently found an in-store copy, so you may want to check your local Target. If you locate a copy in your neck of the woods, please let us know.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Top Recipe - Paul Qui's Chilled Coconut Soup with Kaffir Lime, Ghost Pepper Relish

While Ghost chiles are probably too hot for most people, I'm sure you could substitute a milder chile and still end up with a delicious result.

Chilled Coconut Soup with Kaffir Lime, Ghost Pepper Relish

1 can coconut milk
3 limes, zested and juiced
4 Kaffir lime leaves, julienned
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ear corn
2 apricots
1 medium sized onion, small diced
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
4–6 basil leaves, blossoms if possible
1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
Maldon salt, to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 ounces toasted almonds
1 ghost chili

1. In a stainless mixing bowl, mix coconut milk, lime juice, zest, sugar and lime leaves. Chill and reserve.
2. Sweat onion in vegetable oil and season with salt and garam masala. Cook until onions are translucent, chill and reserve.
3. Grill one apricot and corn until charred, but not cooked all the way. Dice grilled apricot and fresh apricot. Cut corn off cob. Mix, chill and reserve.
4. Roast ghost pepper on the grill until tender. With “gloved” hands de seed the pepper and mince.
5. Mix apricots, corn, onions and ghost pepper.


1. In a bowl, place a small mound of ghost pepper and apricot mixture.
2. Pour coconut soup until half way up the ghost pepper/apricot relish.
3. Garnish with toasted almonds, cilantro, basil and olive oil. Finish with a pinch of Maldon.

© 2011 PAUL QUI

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Bravo Exit Interview - Richie Farina

Until Bravo gets rid of the annoying auto-play video feature, we'll only be posting links to their videos here. Sorry, folks.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

ATC Love to Chef Richie Farina

This week's challenge was particularly tough. Not only was it a team challenge, in which Richie's Black Team came in last, but also the three members of that team had to create another dish with the remnants of their losing chili in order to stay in the game. Hard to do after staying up all night the day before. Unfortunately, Richie's repurposed chili dish was the judges' least favorite and he was sent home.

We hoped to see him and fellow Moto chef Chris Jones compete together for several weeks at least. Their camaraderie and obvious affection for each other was quite touching.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Farina. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Congratulations, Green Team!

This week's chili contest proved no contest at all for Houston native Sarah Grueneberg and her Green Team, who wowed Tejas Rodeo attendees and earned them a big win.

We expect great things from these chefs, don't  you?

This post is only for positive comments about Chefs Crary, Valencia, and Grueneberg . If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Reactions to Top Chef Texas Episode 4

This week's Quickfire Challenge involved chile peppers and lots of them. Padma and guest judges the Too Hot Tamales, aka Top Chef Masters Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, tasted fifteen dishes centered around chiles of various degrees of heat. The winner of this challenge was Paul, who used the world's hottest chile - the Ghost chile - to great advantage in his chilled soup, and also won a cool $20K in the process.

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs were put into teams and tasked with making a cowboy-pleasing bowl of chili. They had to work in their own kitchen...and backyard, and fire pit, etc., jockeying for position at counterspace and grill. The next evening, they served their bowls of red at the Tejas Rodeo and were judged by the attendees themselves who chose the winner. This week, it was the Green Team of Sarah, Chuy, and Chris C who made a most authentic all-meat chili to please their amateur judges.

The Black Team fared worst, but rather than kick someone out at random, Padma presented them with the additional challenge of creating a new dish from the remnants of their unsuccessful mole-style chile. Beverly utilized the mole best in her seared tuna dish and Nyesha also stayed in the competition with her Frito-encrusted shrimp. Richie, however, produced something that was too one-note for the judges' tastes and was sent packing.

So what did you think of this little twist?  Please leave a comment. Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Top Chef Texas Episode 4 Previews

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Texas Episode 3

Entertainment Weekly on Padma: "The chefs entered the spacious San Antonio kitchen to be greeted by an aquarium full of slithering rattlesnakes and one seductive viperess named Padma. I wonder if one of the producers tried to convince Padma to drape an albino python over her shoulders a la Britney 2001 (I would have) -- but instead, she was dressed like a Stepford Wife and attempted to shock us all by intoning, 'get some motherf--ing snakes on some motherf--ing plates.' While she was cursing, she somehow managed to come across even more robotic than usual."

Minxeats on snake hunting: "Unfortunately for the home audience, their snakes had already been killed and skinned. I would have loved to see Edward take on a live rattlesnake. He'd probably try to kill it by biting it in half or something equally dramatic. Hopefully the medic would have been standing by with vials of anti-venin this time."

David Dust on maybe crazy: " it just me, or does Beverly seem a bit … um … touched?? Did you take note of Bevery's psycho-esque yelling at the meat counter? Did you see her snotting and bawling during Blanca’s dance with her father?? And what was up with that piece of paper she printed, congratulating herself on winning Top Chef??"

A Just Recompense on preparing delicate foods: "And of course, they’re cooking rattlesnake. Johnny tells them – several times during the QF – how delicate the meat is, and how it can take spice but it requires a gentle touch. I dunno, if I were cooking rattlesnake, I’d take the same approach I use with eggs and everything else that makes me nervous: cook the hell out of it, cover it with ketchup, and mash it up so it can be swallowed without chewing or tasting. But the goal of the Quickfire is to showcase the rattlesnake, not hide it."

Max the Girl on let them eat cake: "Luckily, Dakota has immunity, so she can sacrifice herself to the cake gods for the Pink Team (and create a cake so tacky it looks like My Little Pony threw up on it). Meanwhile, Heather, from the Green Team, used to be a pastry chef (apparently in a region with no gravity, but more on that later), so she can leche it up with the best of them. Done and done."

Carol Blymire on wacko: " Beverly cries watching Blanca dance with her dad, and blubbers out some convoluted story that leads us to believe that her own father wanted a son instead of her. Why people choose to go on reality TV rather than see a therapist is beyond me. But I digress."

Grub Street on hypocracy: "The first shopping trip was the usual yelling mishmash, but with an extra side of hypocrisy from the pink team: When sad-faced Lindsey found out Black Hagrid bought precooked shrimp for a mystery dish, she made a speech about how baffled she was that someone thought buying something precooked was okay … and then proceeded to buy store-bought tortillas, an equally egregious offense in our book. She and Sarah then decided to team up on Black Hagrid, making him feel very alone."

Hugh Acheson for PopWatch on understanding Keith: "I have no idea [why Keith bought the cooked shrimp]. I think he was concerned about the time, but there are certain short cuts in the kitchen that chefs of this caliber should never take and he took it. This is a guy who up to this point, even through the quick fire, had been doing the most complex cooking out there. He had been doing plates with four different elements pretty much all the time and really trying to bring a lot of nuance and interesting stuff to the table. Then he makes an enchilada/burrito and buys frozen shrimp. It’s like, what was he thinking? Maybe his bed was too small and he wanted to move on and go home?"

CultureMob on stewing: "The chefs are all sitting in the Stew Room and hot damn, there’s a lot of them. How about a double elimination for Thanksgiving just to thin the ranks a bit? Padma walks in and calls in Sarah, Lindsay, Keith and He-Cat. She calls him Ty, which makes much more sense as a nickname, but I kind of like thinking of him as a super-hero on Saturday morning cartoons."

Eater on inappropriate: "It is young Blanca's Quinceañera, a traditional Mexican big fancy 15th birthday party for girls. It is a special day and the teams are charged with making her food. They interrogate her about what she likes. She likes ceviche, tres leches cake, goat, and cabbage leaves. One chef asks, 'Do you like boys?' Um, you are making me uncomfortable. Will her answer influence whether or not you make her a bachelorette party dildo cake?"

My Monkey Could Do That on cakes on plates: "Cake time. Dakota’s cake is pretty garish, but she says Blanca asked for these colors, and for the flavors inside. The bright pink and blue and green are accented by purple calla lilies and tall colored candles. Heather’s cake…oh, Heather. They covered it completely with white flowers, so all you can see is flowers. But it’s melted, so it’s just a lopsided blob. A lopsided blob of flowers with two sad, straggly strands of ivy. It is a Cake Wreck. Dakota’s cake has too much frosting but the inside is good. Surprisingly the tres leches is really good, less sweet and there are some strawberries from somewhere."

Cliffieland on quinceanera: "The event turns out to be a darling gathering which seems very fun. But maybe it's where I was from, but it bears little resemblance to the over-the-top, costing-enough-to-put-your-family-in-hock-for-the-rest-of-their-lives extravaganzas I saw among the (mostly) Cubans I grew up around. I mean, where were the dancing waiters? The choreographed water ballet? The grand entrance from a mirrored sphere descending from the ceiling? I mean, how is a girl supposed to understand her worth to the world without that?"

Foodie Buddha lets us in on some culinary terms.

And last, but not least...Top Chef Refire's episode 3 podcast!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Top Chef Video Monday: Sarah Grueneberg + Chuy Valencia

Chicago is proud of its six, count 'em, six, contenders in contention this season. Click here for a great video from the Chicago Tribune's Kevin Pang with two of them, Sarah Grueneberg and Chuy Valencia.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Top Recipe - Chris Jones' Green Chile, Mushroom & Oaxaca Cheese Empanadas

I thought Chris Jones' empanada sounded like the tastiest thing on the Green Team buffet, so here's the recipe.
Green Chile, Mushroom & Oaxaca Cheese Empanadas

Empanada Dough:
2 bags masa dough + equal parts water
1 tube Crisco
1/4 cup baking powder
1/3 cup salt

Empanada Filling:
8 poblanos
4 pounds button mushrooms
3 pounds Oaxaca cheese
2 yellow onions

Empanada Dough:
1. Mix water and masa together until dough is no longer sticky. Incorporate Crisco, baking powder and salt. Cover with damp cloth until ready to fill (filling meat) once filling is ready using an empanada press filling and dough together.

Empanada Filling:

1. Preheat grill to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Roast peppers until charred. Place in bowl, wrap in plastic wrap and keep warm for 15 minutes. Peel peppers and rough chop.
3. Rough chop onions and mushrooms. Sweat until rendered.
4. In a food processor chop cheese then add cooked peppers, mushrooms and onion mix.
5. Combine all and use to fill empanada dough.


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Friday, November 18, 2011

Top Chef’s Dale Levitski to Open New Restaurant + One Night Only with Tom Colicchio

Season 3’s Dale Levitski tells the Chicago Tribune he plans to open “"frog n snail" (yes, lowercase) next spring, a French-American bistro with a midwestern sensibility and touches of his Eastern European heritage. A dish of frogs and snails will be on the menu. We’re wondering whether the new place will offer a no-kids brunch like the one that has been so successful at his current restaurant, Sprout.

TC head judge is doing a speaking gig at Charlottesville, VA’s Paramount Theater March 18. Tickets go on sale starting Nov. 28. Click here for details.

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All Top Chef Interview with Keith Rhodes

Chef Keith talks about his experience on the Bravo show.

Click here to learn more about Keith's restaurant, Catch, in Wilmington, NC.

Thank you Chef Keith!

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Bravo Exit Interview - Keith Rhodes

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Congratulations, Green Team!

Congrats to the Green Team of Chuy, Edward, Beverly, Paul, Richie, Chris J., Heather, and Grayson! They prepared a successful selection of elegant Mexican dishes for young Blanca Flores' quinceanera celebration and earned another week of competition on Top Chef Texas.

This post is only for positive comments about the chefs on the Green Team . If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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ATC Love to Chef Keith Rhodes

Chef Keith Rhodes, a gentle giant if there ever was one, is the first chef to leave the competition this season. He chose to use flour tortillas rather than the traditional corn for his enchilada, which earned him a thumbs down from the judges and from Blanca Flores, whose quinceanara was being celebrated.

We're sorry to see Chef Rhodes go so soon. He was a James Beard Award nominee, so we know the man can cook. We're looking forward to hearing about a JBA win next time around.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Rhodes. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Reactions to Top Chef Texas Episode 3

With the cheftestants whittled down to the final 16, the competition began in earnest. The first Quickfire Challenge involved rattlesnake. Fortunately, the chefs did not have to kill or clean their protein. Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria restaurant was on hand as the guest judge.

Although most were unfamiliar with the ingredient, everyone seemed to struggle with the subtle flavor of the meat. This was especially true for Paul and Richie who overpowered the rattlesnake with seasoning. Nyesha also stumbled by overcooking the meat. On the positive side, Beverly's preparation was elegant and Sarah's touch of lemon added coolness to the dish. The beer-battered rattlesnake of Dakota ultimately won the challenge. She earned immunity in the Elimination Round and $5,000.

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs were split into two teams (Team Green and Team Pink) and asked to cater a quinceanara, the Mexican version of a Sweet 16 party. After shopping at Whole Foods and a Mexican grocery store, the chefs had three hours to prep. Team Pink got off to a bad start when Keith purchased pre-cooked shrimp for Lindsay's dish and she had to abandon her plan. Both teams were tripped up by the prepared tortillas that they purchased.

Despite putting on a decent feast that the attendees enjoyed, the judges found fault with both teams. Ultimately, the Green Team fared better and received the win. Of the Pink Team members, Ty-Lor, Sarah, Lindsay, and Keith were singled out as having the worst dishes. Ty-lor's fritter was deemed dry, both Sarah and Lindsay's dishes lacked seasoning, and Keith's enchilada suffered from using flour tortillas instead of the traditional corn tortillas. In the end, Keith was asked to pack his knives and go.

So what did you think of last night's episode? Leave your comments below.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Top Chef Texas Episode 3 Previews

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Congrats to Our Top Chefs on their Eater Awards

The annual awards handed out by are, er, rather more idiosyncratic than those bestowed by the James Beard Foundation, Food + Wine, etc. But we're happy for the winners nonetheless. They include: Top Chef: Texas competitors Paul Qui, for Chef of the Year Austin, and Sarah Grueneberg, who somehow bested Grant Achatz and Stephanie Izard for Chef of the Year Chicago. Top Chef Season 1 winner Harold Dieterle took Chef of the Year NYC.

Yardbird Southern Table + Bar, Season 4’s Jeff McInnis’s new project, won for Best Bathroom Miami. (I told you these awards are quirky, but I hear his restaurant is terrific.) The ubiquitous Fabio Viviani won Eater’s 2011 Fameball Award.

For the full list of nominees and winners, click here.

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Expansion Plans for Top Chef’s Voltaggio, Isabella, and Izard

Season 6’s Bryan Voltaggio will be switching things up between his Frederick, MD flagship, Volt, and his newest venture, Lunchbox, which kinda sounds like little bro’s ink.sack. Maybe great brothers just think alike? For more on Lunchbox, Bryan’s once-stalled project North Market Kitchen, and a possible diner tentatively called Range, check out reports here and here. Our heads are spinning.

Mike Isabella of Season 6 and All-Stars, who opened Graffiato in June, plans to open another DC area restaurant, called Bandolero, serving “modern Mexican” small plates in the form of “salsas, guacamoles, ceviches, tacos, vegetables.” This maestro of multiples is apparently looking at spaces for yet a third concept as well. Reports here and here.

And Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard has revealed details about her upcoming “Little Goat,” a diner concept across the street from her wildly successful The Girl and The Goat in Chicago.

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Recap Roundup: Top Chef Texas Episode 2

Jordan Baker on wardrobe: "They’re faced with Padma in a new muumuu – so is it a new day, or did they just have Padma change muumuus halfway through Day One to signify that it would be a new episode? Or did she spill something on the previous muumuu while she was tasting the food from the first rounds?"

Grub Street on mercy: "The producers were kind enough to make up for this cluster…fudge of people by actually giving us another decent twist: Only after the chefs fought over normal ingredients did they find out that they'd only have 20, 40, or 60 minutes to cook what they chose."

David Dust on semantics: "This week, 10 chefs remain for Round #3, and 4 chefs are on the bubble. BTW – shouldn’t it be 'on the cusp' or 'IN the bubble' or 'I’m on the edge of glory and I’m hanging on a moment of truth'?? 'On the bubble' just sounds weird."

Minxeats on BubbleJanine: "I feel for Janine, who tells us about her broken relationship. Dude - her girlfriend dumped her because she didn't like the vows Janine made during their commitment ceremony! That's even lamer than Kim Kardashian's reasons for divorcing after only 72 days of marriage. ('I asked Kris if a skirt made my butt look big and he paused before he said, "yes."')"

Entertainment Weekly on stewing: "So in the stew room, which is bubbling over with frazzled nerves and anticipation, the four on-the-bubble chefs from last week are joined by Andrew and Laurent. Edward Lee, who last week explained that he wanted to show his disapproving Korean parents that cooking was a respectable profession, definitely seems the most intent on winning. It’s so inappropriate yet funny how he just laughs when Molly tells him she cooks on a cruise ship; I think Ed’s just happy to find someone his parents would consider even lower-status than him."

Hugh Acheson for PopWatch on risotto: "Risotto is this trap door for Top Chef contestants. It’s hilarious. When I was on Top Chef Masters, John Currence went out with risotto. It’s just amazingly tricky, and yet such a simple dish to put forward really well. I don’t know if Chaz just misread his time, but that must be what happened, because it looked to me like he could really get it done. I caught somebody telling him he had a minute left. The risotto was still in the pot at that point and then he transferred it to a sheet and then it never made it. Also, the other thing was: Why on earth did he make so much risotto for three judges? It was enough to feed an army. We didn’t get to taste the risotto. If it doesn’t make it to the plate, we don’t taste it."

AV Club on timing: "For some, that seemed fair enough: Mushrooms or Brussel sprouts can definitely be done well in twenty minutes. But the forty minute risotto and short-rib seemed pretty killer, and it seemed like no surprise that the contestants who gravitated towards more difficult ingredients (oxtail, octopus) and thus slightly longer times also ended with the most spots in the Top Chef house."

Max the Girl on Chaz: "As for Chaz, well, Houston we have a problem: You see, he never got his risotto on the plates. He’s serving the judges. . .nothing. (Talk about a diet plate! Ba-dum-dum!) Tom and Hugh look at Padma beseechingly. You can see that Tom is trying to decide if they should all just hover around Chaz’s risotto, trough style. Padma will have none of it: 'Chaz, please Pack your knives and go,' she says firmly. 'It kinda feels like she’s breaking up with me,' Chaz says. “I want my CDs back, we have to split up our friends. . . You cut me deep Padma.'"

Houston Press on the final two preliminary challenges: "So the structure of the show will be a predictable two rounds: the remaining 10 chefs compete against one another, then those left on the bubble from the entire affair will compete in a Gladiator-style bloodsport with maces, and then Padma's left breast will give a thumbs up or thumbs down to the survivors."

A Just Recompense on that French guy: "Laurent is from France, and he was brought to the US in chains, then decided LA wasn’t so bad and now wants to stay forever. 'In France, you have to become a cook, a priest, or an army guy.' Really? France really has gone downhill, hasn’t it. The oven isn’t hot enough so his duck isn’t crispy. It’s official, he’s a prick. He’s Stefan Lite without the humor. I don’t even know what he serves. Duck. Hugh says he brought a gazillion things to the plate but it needed to make sense; bubble. Tom acknowledges his experience, but gives it a no. Padma gives him the bubble. Damn."

Carol Blymire on Emeril: "Padma summons the 'on the bubble' chefs from the Stew Room to the Top Chef kitchen, where Emeril is among the judges waiting for them. I’m pleased that Emeril is two for two so far this season, but what I find fascinating is that in Emeril’s on-screen description, he is not listed as chef, restaurateur, rock star, Friend of Martha or anything like that. In all fairness, you could just list him as 'Emeril,' and everyone would know who he is. But sadly, no. He’s listed as 'Emeril Lagasse, author of Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders.' Um, okay. Sure."

CultureMob on the bubble challenge: "Grayson, Molly, Edward, Janine, Andrew and Laurent file back into the kitchen to be greeted by the judges (now including BAM!, but sadly no Gail) for the final cook-off. The chefs are given 45 minutes to cook a dish using any ingredient in the kitchen; this is the kind of challenge where the lack of boundaries might trip people up. They have a lot of leeway for this show, and having to streamline their thoughts and ideas that quickly under this kind of pressure isn’t going to go well."

Cliffieland on blood and guts: "Quickly, the stampede begins and, moments later, we see that one chef has sliced his hand open and is bleeding like Dan Akroyd-as-Julia Child all over the kitchen. But this shall not stop our intrepid chef, who actually continues cooking with one hand while the medics scamper alongside him and tend to his wound."

Eater on accidents will happen: "Edward slices his hand bad, and even gloving it up doesn't stop the blood from pouring out. He gets some first aid while still struggling to cook. I learned yesterday that Axe makes a spray called 'Recovery.' I don't know what it does, but it's probably for spraying on wounds. Try that. He says, 'He can cut off my arm and take it. I'll cook one-handed. He can cut off my torso and I'll cook with my feet.' No you won't. Also, unless you are making peanut butter or wine, I don't want your foot-food, and even if you are I still don't."

Starr Raving on contrasts: "At the Top Chef house, everyone's drinking champagne -- and checking out the competition. Which is also what they're doing in the stew room, but without champagne. Or joy. Or anything. Somebody give these guys some crackers or something; it feels like chef jail in there."

My Monkey Could Do That offers a non sequitur: "You guys, I watched a special with the Voltaggio brothers making Thanksgiving. It was like, non-stop hot boys and delicious food for a whole hour. Of course, Michael had to sous vide his turkey for some reason, but then he made sticky toffee pudding with braised pineapple so who cares about the turkey anyway."

Food & More on but wait - there's more!: "Oh, yes! Just when you thought they were done, Bravo unveils yet ANOTHER twist in the form of the weekly webisodes Last Chance Kitchen. Each week, the chef sent home will compete in this loser’s bracket in which winning out can earn them a spot to compete in the finale. And since Janine and Andrew were the last to go this week, they are the first gladiators thrown into this alternate revenue stream to fight for their lives."

Not a recap, but Foodie Buddha helpfully offers up definitions to foodie terms heard in this week's episode.

...and finally, this week's Top Chef Refire podcast!

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Monday, November 14, 2011

A Thanksgiving Message to Our Readers from Top Chef Season 4’s Ryan Scott

Season 4’s Ryan Scott has gone on to helm the 3-Sum Eats food truck, a restaurant called Brunch Drunk Love, and a catering company called Ryan Scott 2 Go in San Francisco. He also emerged victorious in the recent Bravo webisode battle against Casey Thompson (Seasons 3 and 8), Tre Wilson (Seasons 3 and 8), and Sara Nguyen (Season 3) to be named Healthy Choice “Flavor Ambassador.”

But one mission that remains close to Ryan’s heart is Harvest from the Heart, a charity he began in 2007 with his mother and other family and friends that will deliver bagged lunches and brand new clean socks to an estimated 3,000 people in the San Francisco area this Thanksgiving. Click to learn more about volunteering or donating.

Dear friends,

I am pleased to announce that Harvest from the Heart is now an official nonprofit organization with the 501(c) (3) status in place. For a number of years we have provided a bagged lunch to people in need on Thanksgiving Day. It is our belief that feeding people and welcoming them is one of the best activities we can do.

After four years of success with increased contributions, volunteers, and support we have been able to provide thousands of bagged lunches to those less fortunate. Or goal is to serve 3,000 lunches again this year. This is where we need your help.

Beginning Monday, November 21, through Thursday, November 24, volunteers will be working tirelessly for Thanksgiving Day.

Who We Are

Harvest from the Heart was originally started by me and my mother, Patricia Sadler, simply to feed people. It was based on the simple idea of people inviting over those who have nowhere else to go on Thanksgiving Day to cook for them, feed them and make them feel welcomed. Harvest from the Heart is expanding doing that on a larger scale and delivering the food to people.

In addition to providing a bagged lunch we have been able to also give people a brand new clean pair of socks. We have watched people be as grateful for that as they are the food. We have witnessed people sitting down to put on the new socks immediately even before eating.

Our hope and goal is that we will be able to expand this simple idea to other cities, counties and states while remaining true to our mission of feeding people.

Why It Matters

Too many people are without food or shelter. Too many people are barely housed in single rooms with no access to cooking or refrigeration. Too many people have been impacted by the economy of the last couple years even though there were too many less fortunate people already.

The people who receive our bagged lunches appreciate being fed, having the food delivered to them, but especially having another person acknowledging them and wishing them well on Thanksgiving Day.

When you see the look in a person’s eyes, then you know how much it all matters.

How We Make a Difference

We bring people together as a community to cook, assemble food, package and deliver it to people around San Francisco. This empowers anyone who helps and inspires them to think about others throughout the year.

We partner with individual donors and companies to provide this help to people.

We are feeding people!!!!

Past Partners

In past years, we have partnered with and received donations from: AriZona Beverages, Kara’s Cupcakes, Onoroto & Co. and North Beach Italian Bakery; along with the kindness and generosity from the folks in the community.

Thank you,
Ryan Scott

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Video Sunday - Top Chef's Hugh Acheson's Talk at Google

If you have 45 minutes to spare this morning, you'll find lots of food for thought from former TC Masters contestant and current Top Chef: Texas judge Hugh Acheson here. His comments about Top Chef start at about the 35-minute mark. The Canadian describes his new book, A New Turn in the South, as an interloper's guide to Southern cooking, and has plenty to say on the topics of local, organic, sustainable, and community food. Grab a cup of coffee or your a.m. beverage of choice and settle in for a fascinating conversation!

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Meet the Chefs - Lindsay Autry

HOMETOWN: Fayetteville, NC
RESIDES: Palm Beach, FL
AGE: 29
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Omphoy Ocean Resort
CULINARY EDUCATION: A.A.S and B.S. Culinary Arts, Johnson & Wales University
FAVORITE SIMPLE FALL RECIPE: Farro & Roasted Tomatoes with Grilled Kale

Still in her twenties, Lindsay’s reputation has garnered respect from some of the greatest chefs in America. A native of North Carolina, Lindsay currently resides in Palm Beach, Florida where she is the Executive Chef of the Omphoy Ocean Resort and Michelle Bernstein Restaurant.

Lindsay has held various chef positions on the East Coast as well as three years in Mexico. Her cuisine embraces Mediterranean flavors while blending in her southern roots. If she were given a last supper, she’d choose to spend it with her grandfather, making fried green tomatoes.

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Meet the Chefs - Beverly Kim

HOMETOWN: Downers Grove, IL
RESIDES: Chicago, IL
AGE: 32
PROFESSION: Chef de Cuisine, aria restaurant at Fairmont Chicago
CULINARY EDUCATION: AAS in Culinary Arts, Kendall College
FAVORITE SIMPLE FALL RECIPE: Pan-seared trout served with roasted spaghetti squash and a brown butter citrus sauce.

Beverly Kim works as the Chef de Cuisine at aria restaurant in Chicago, IL. She has enjoyed an illustrious career, working at some of Chicago’s premiere restaurants and hotels. Influenced by her mother’s cooking, Beverly’s culinary style is modern Asian cuisine that incorporates many locally sourced products. She believes in cooking from her heart because if it excites her, it will excite others too. If she were a food, she says, “I would be kimchi since it is funky, spicy and addictive which matches my eccentric, yet soulful personality.”

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Meet the Chefs - Edward Lee

HOMETOWN: Brooklyn, NY
RESIDES: Louisville, KY
AGE: 39
PROFESSION: Executive Chef / Partner 610 Magnolia

Edward Lee is chef & owner of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Kentucky. A Brooklyn native, Lee found his way to Louisville while attending The Kentucky Derby in 2003 and destiny brought him to the restaurant, 610 Magnolia. The following year, he bought the restaurant with partner Brook Smith and moved to Louisville. With Lee at the helm, 610 Magnolia has been praised as the fine dining destination of the region. In 2011, he was a Finalist for The Best Chef Award Southeast from the James Beard Foundation.

Lee attended college at NYU graduating Magna cum Laude with a degree in English Literature. At 22, he chose to pursue a culinary career instead of a literary one. He staged in a number of restaurants in France and after a brief stint working at several high profile restaurants in NYC, Lee opened Clay in 1998 at the age of 25. When he’s not cooking, Lee is hanging out with animals (both four legged and two legged), hunting game birds, eating fried chicken, singing karaoke and trying to perfect a one handed backhand. His wife, Dianne, is his biggest fan and strongest inspiration. “If I can do one thing to make her proud, my work is done.”

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Meet the Stars - Paul Qui

HOMETOWN: Springfield, VA; Houston, TX
AGE: 31
PROFESSION: Executive Chef at Uchiko
CULINARY EDUCATION: Associate in Culinary from Le Cordon Bleu Austin
FAVORITE SIMPLE FALL DESSERT RECIPE: Favorite simple dessert is Bananas Foster

Paul Qui is executive chef at Uchiko restaurant in Austin, Texas. Born in Manila, Philippines and trained in classic French and Japanese cuisine, Paul takes a modernist approach towards food, where there are no boundaries. Starting as a stage, Paul worked his way up the ranks of Uchi to Chef de Cuisine and eventually Executive Chef at Uchiko. While training under Uchi Chef and Owner Tyson Cole, Paul learned to adapt traditional Japanese dishes with an eye towards local flavor, all while incorporating influences from South East Asian and European cuisine.

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Meet the Chefs - Grayson Schmitz

HOMETOWN: New Holstein, WI
AGE: 28
PROFESSION: Olivier Cheng Catering and Events, recipe development

Grayson’s passion for food, people, and the simple joy in life is apparent in everything that she does, from her drive of pleasing people through cooking, to her contagious laughter and the humor she brings with her in every situation. Hailing from the small town of New Holstein, Wisconsin, she has a strong foundation of family and Midwestern values, as well as a healthy affinity for cheese and beer. Grayson migrated to the East Coast to pursue her schooling in the culinary arts. After graduating from the CIA, she spent her formative years training under the best chefs in the city, including Jean Georges Vongerichten, Fabbio Trabocchi, and Kurt Gutenbrunner. She now heads up recipe development for the most celebrated events catering company in the city, Olivier Cheng.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Last Chance Kitchen

Top Chef Last Chance Kitchen, a series of webisodes on, will pit eliminated cheftestants against each other for the ultimate prize - a chance to get back into the competition.

The first contest is between bubble chefs Andrew and Janine. Check it out here.

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Reactions to Top Chef Texas Episode 2


The episode starts out with the final group of chefs competing for a slot in the competition. This time, the challenge is to cook a dish using any one ingredient displayed on a series of trays. Each tray also holds a cloche concealing that chef's particular time limit; the lucky ones get a full sixty minutes, while others get forty or twenty.

When the smoke clears, three more chefs have become Cheftestants, and two more have been placed on the bubble with Ed, Molly, Grayson, and Janine.

The bubble chefs then are challenged to create a masterful dish in 45 minutes, using any ingredients available in the Top Chef kitchen. At the end of this little competition, chefs Ed and Grayson are awarded chef's coats while the other four are sequestered for the next five weeks with the nine who were eliminated the week before.

>bwomp bwomp!<

So...what did you think? Ready for the competition to start in earnest?

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Top Chef News, Shoes, and Shows

Zac Young of Just Desserts 1 at the James Beard Foundation annual gala and auction: “I promised if the bidding went high enough, I'd cook in Gail's shoes. It did and La Simmons handed over the goods.”

We mentioned yesterday that we spotted TC: Texas contestant Nyesha Arrington on last Sunday’s “sneak peak” at the new Food Network show, Chef Hunters. Now comes word TC Masters Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger will be looking to hire an executive chef for their restaurant Border Grill on the show’s official premiere this Thursday night at 10:00 Eastern.

And if that’s not enough, there’s a 1980s-era sit-com in the works based on Too Hot Tamales Mary Sue and Susan’s long-standing friendship and business partnership (and there's that husband they have in common . . .)

Missing Anthony Bourdain as a judge on the new season of Top Chef? Never fear. His new show, The Layover, premieres on the Travel Channel Monday, Nov. 21. Click here for video of his segment this week on Letterman, where he explains how The Layover is different from No Reservations, and why “the smell of failure is French toast.”

Bourdain will also make an appearance, as it were, on The Simpsons this Sunday (Nov. 13 at 8:00 Eastern on Fox), in which Marge becomes, yes, a food blogger. Grub Street has a great interview with the show’s executive producer about the episode (don’t miss the slideshow).

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Top Chef Texas Episode 2 Previews

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top Chefs Sam Talbot, Brian Malarkey, and Nyesha Arrington - Out, Expanding, and Doing Double Duty

Sam Talbot is out at NYC’s Imperial Number Nine at the Mondrian, according to reports here and here.

Brian Malarkey is opening three new fabric-themed restaurants in San Diego. In addition to Searsucker and Burlap, you can read about Herringbone, Gingham, and Gabardine here.

Did you catch the sneak peak of Chef Hunters on the Food Network Sunday night? Top Chef: Texas contestant Nyesha Arrington competed on that reality food show as well. Video here, or catch the show’s official premiere Thurs. night at 10:00 Eastern.

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Recap Roundup: Top Chef Texas Episode 1

A Just Recompense on first meetings: "They meet at the Alamo. Padma, who’s dieted-and-exercised away the baby-lusciousness she had in DC and All-Stars, greets them. They were chosen from over a thousand chefs, and, surprise, they’ll compete in three groups to earn one of sixteen spots. Three judges for each group, and majority rules. They’ll either be in, be out, or be on the bubble and have to cook again if fewer than 16 chefs are in. In his blog, Tom talks about how different this is from their usual procedure (and how hot it was; he also fluffs up Emeril’s Food Network reputation)."

Jordan Baker on the rules: "Padma explains that majority rules for all decisions – if two judges think they’re in, they’re in. If two think they should be eliminated, they go home. If they’re undecided, the chefs go “on the bubble” and compete again."

Best Week Ever on heats: "The chefs are divided into three groups of ten, then within those groups into sub-groups of three or four chefs who each present dishes at the same time, and from there they’re divided into phylum, class, etc and placed into hurricane districts by an independent arbitrator with an astrolabe."

Minxeats on Stone, Chef Tyler Stone: "Tyler's a personal chef who has apparently cooked for celebrities far and wide. In his mind. He's 22 and thinks his diapers don't stink. His smug expression and over-tweezed eyebrows would have been perfect for Rocco's Dinner Party."

The Stew on new judges: "Now we’re in the Top Chef Kitchen, decorated in red-white-blue lone star motif, and bam! It’s cuddly bear/parsley-volleying chef Emeril Lagasse, who will serve as a judge this season. He doesn’t strike us as a Simon Cowell, so for now he’ll occupy the encouraging Paula Abdul role."

Food and More on exactly what I was thinking: "Someone tell Chris Crary not to name drop Blais and Voltaggio when describing his style. It just makes him seem like a fanboy. A pompous fanboy."

CultureMob gives advice: "Colin, meanwhile, has a vegan restaurant and hasn’t worked with pig in ten years. Colin, meet me in the next paragraph.

Are you an idiot? Come on, I respect that you’re a vegan chef and I’m sure you make excellent vegan meals, but you’re on Top Chef. IN TEXAS! You’ve gotta know those bitches aren’t going to eat butternut squash and egg-less breads for the whole season. Maybe brush up on some meat-y recipes before going on a television show in front of millions of people? It’s like the people who come on here without memorizing a couple of cake recipes. No sympathy at all…you know it’s coming, you’re fooling yourself if you don’t prepare. Don’t be a fool, Colin….you’re at least 50% more attractive than Tyler."

Grub Street on names: "Ty-Lör Boring started talking about cooking his rabbit Thai-style, but we got distracted once again, this time by his name. Has there ever been a cheftestant with a better name? Can he win just so we can see the name Ty-Lör Boring plastered everywhere?"

Cliffieland on judging: "As the hour goes on, we learn that after the chefs cook their dish, the judges will decide whether they will be awarded a golden ticket to Hollywood/plane ticket to Vegas, be sent right home to cry in their pig bellies or will have to cook/dance/sing for their lives in a second attempt to be cast."

Starr Raving on heat 2 chefs: "Again, a lot of people to remember (or, actually, forget), but the one who stands out is Keith. Not only is he super tall, he served time for drug dealing and now owns a bunch of seafood restaurants. You've got to love that story. Oh, and he's a James Beard nominee, so we know he can cook. Janine also stands out, as she's had a rough year -- her father died and she broke up with 'somebody' (I guess that means a girlfriend), so she needs a check in the win column. Edward also needs to win, because his Korean parents don't respect chefs -- but apparently they'll change their tune if their chef son wins a reality TV cooking show. Go figure."

David Dust runs down who is in and who is out after 2 heats: Heat 1: "Making the cut: Chef Gay Glasses and his sous chef Gay Facial Hair, both Big Chicago Gals and the African American Gal.On the bubble: Cruise Ship Soup Nazi and Tiny Tenderloin Lady. Out: Tattoo Latino Guy and Vegan with the sloppy soup."

Heat 2: "In: Enormous Former Drug Dealer Dude, some chick named Whitney, Mr. Boring (YES!!!!!!!), some gal named Dakota, The Pretty White Boy and the adorable Pocket Latino. Bubble: The Korean Guy, The Lesbian Whose Dad Died. Out: The Chick With No Rabbit On Her Plate."

And check out the brand new Top Chef podcast at Top Chef Refire!

If you are a Top Chef recapper, drop us a line at and let us know about it!

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Top Recipe - Chris Jones' Caramel Apple Stuffed with Braised Pork Belly & Sweet Applesauce

Just 'cause it sounded so interesting....

Caramel Apple Stuffed with Braised Pork Belly & Sweet Applesauce

Braised Pork Belly:
4 pounds pork belly
2 knobs ginger
8 pieces jalapeno
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup yuzu
1/4 cup salt
6 cups beef broth
1 onion, rough chopped

Candied Peanuts:
2 cups peanuts
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/8 cup brown sugar

Apple Shell and Apple Sauce:
5 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Salt, to taste

Caramel Sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup cream

Braised Pork Belly:
1. Cut pork belly into 1-inch pieces, place in pressure cooker with jalapeno, ginger and onion rough chopped. Add all the rest of ingredients and stir together, close pressure cooker and cook on high for 1 hour.

Candied Peanuts:
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a small saucepot combine all ingredients; bring to a boil on high. Simmer cook until nuts take on all flavors (about 10 minutes). Drain excess butter and roast peanuts at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 more minutes to harden. Pull out and cool.

Apple Shell and Apple Sauce:
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a small saucepot melt sugars.
3. Cut 2 apples in half and set aside. Core and chop remaining apples. Next take halved apples and start to remove the inner – ends remove core first take the actual good flesh of the apple, toss with apple dice. Season hollowed apples with a small amount of salt and sugar. Roast for 15 minutes at 250 degrees Fahrenheit or until soft.
4. In the small saucepan with melted sugar add apples and simmer for 10 minutes, place in blender and puree until smooth, strain into a small pot to stay warm.

Caramel Sauce:
1. In a small saucepot, melt sugar without stirring, add butter then cream. Let cool.


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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Meet the Chefs - Dakota Weiss

HOMETOWN: Quartz Hill, CA
RESIDES: Los Angeles, CA
AGE: 35
PROFESSION: Executive Chef for Choice Hospitality and W Los Angeles
FAVORITE SIMPLE FALL DESSERT RECIPE: Maple Syrup Baked Apples stuffed with Bread Pudding and Vanilla Gelato

Born and raised in Lancaster, California, Weiss’ love for cooking began at a young age and she credits her mother, suspense novelist Charmaine Coimbria, for introducing her to the kitchen. She would spend her mornings picking fresh products from her mother’s organic orchard and enjoyed quality time with her in the kitchen before moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico when she was 12. While taking classes at New Mexico State University, Weiss realized she had no passion for the subjects she was taking and decided to pursue what she loves most -- cooking. She went on to work and hone her craft in Atlanta, Southern California, Philadelphia and currently serves as Executive Chef for Choice Hospitality and W Los Angeles. She believes in bold tastes, but is committed to unique, yet simple and light dishes. During her time off, Weiss spends time along the Central Coast with her parents enjoying the local vineyards. If she’s not out perusing the farmer’s market, she enjoys being outdoors, taking long hikes or escaping with books. She uses her unique and diverse culinary background to create good food combined with a memorable social and sensual experience.

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Meet the Chefs - Chuy Valencia

HOMETOWN: Santa Rosa, CA
RESIDES: Chicago, IL
AGE: 25
PROFESSION: Chef/Partner Chilam Balam
CULINARY EDUCATION: A.O.S. California Culinary Academy
FAVORITE FALL DRINK: Templeton Rye Old-fashioned

Chuy Valencia was born and raised in Sonoma, California by parents who grew their own food in the backyard and always had a pot of something delicious simmering on the stove. Growing up, he spent his summers and holiday seasons in his parents' native Colima, Mexico on the family orchard. After school, he went to Chicago and began working as Sous Chef at the renowned Frontera Grill as well as Topolobampo, which reinforced the cultural connection to his food and refined his style. Chuy presently co-owns and operates Chilam Balam, a seasonal small plates restaurant.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Meet the Chefs - Heather Terhune

AGE: 40
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Sable Kitchen & Bar
CULINARY EDUCATION: A.O.S Culinary Arts, New England Culinary Institute
FAVORITE SIMPLE FALL DESSERT RECIPE: Pumpkin Panna Cotta Ginger Snaps, Candied Pumpkin Seed Brittle

After more than a decade perfecting American comfort food at Chicago’s beloved Atwood Café, Heather’s focus at Sable shifts to contemporary New American social plates. She serves food that is both innovative and appealing in its simplicity. “My focus is on the quality of the ingredients, not the quantity,” she explains. A fan of the “eat local” movement, Heather has found a way to incorporate Midwestern ingredients. She began honing her craft as a professional chef in The Willard Room at Washington, D.C.’s venerable Willard Hotel, often described as the “crown jewel of Pennsylvania Avenue.” Other posts in D.C. included The Watergate Hotel’s famed Jean Louis restaurant, where she worked under Michelin three-star recipient Jean Louis Palladin until his retirement. Heather grew up in St. Albans, Vermont, and first discovered her passion for cooking while canning vegetables and making preserves under the watchful eyes of her mother and grandmother.

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Meet the Chefs - Keith Rhodes

HOMETOWN: Wilmington, NC
AGE: 39
HOMETOWN: Wilmington, NC
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Catch

Keith Rhodes, a James Beard nominee for Best Chef Southeast, is chef and owner of Catch, a modern seafood restaurant in Wilmington, North Carolina. The popular restaurant recently opened a second location. Prior to his role at Catch, he served as Executive Chef of Deluxe. Married at age 19, he has two kids in college and prides himself on his upscale lowcountry cuisine with worldly influences and unique plating presentation. Rhodes also partakes in outreach projects for kids and mentors young chefs.

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Meet the Chefs - Whitney Otawka

HOMETOWN: Hesperia, CA
AGE: 30
PROFESSION: Executive Chef Farm 255
EDUCATION: BA UC Berkeley/ Culinary Le Cordon Bleu Atlanta

While taking French classes at the University of California-Berkeley, Whitney was hired as one member of a two-person kitchen. The owner filled the menu with his mother’s Brittany-based recipes, and spent evenings introducing Whitney to a world of gastronomy and fine wine. She continued her culinary learning in restaurants in California until she moved to Athens in 2005, where she worked her way up to Sous Chef of 5&10 under Chef Hugh Acheson. During her years at 5&10, she took time out to hold numerous stages in New York's finest restaurants such as Per Se and Le Bernardin, and work with chefs and winemakers across Europe. In 2010, Whitney became Executive Chef at the prestigious Greyfield Inn of Cumberland Island, until recently leaving to join the kitchen as Executive Chef of Farm 255 in Athens Georgia. She has always been deeply influenced by the old world, traditional country dishes of France, Italy, Spain and the American South. She approaches her menus with the goal of bringing new flavors to rustic cuisine while exhibiting utmost technique and craftsmanship.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Meet the Chefs - Sarah Grueneberg

RESIDES: Chicago, IL
AGE: 30
PROFESSION: Executive Chef Spiaggia (and of sister restaurant Cafe Spiaggia)
CULINARY EDUCATION: School of Culinary Arts at The Art Institute
FAVORITE SIMPLE FALL DESSERT RECIPE: Chestnut tart with apples and salted caramel gelato

Sarah Grueneberg is the Executive Chef of Spiaggia, Chicago’s only four-star authentic Italian restaurant. Born in Houston, Texas, Sarah spent a lot of time with her family cooking, gardening, and going to the ranch. Sarah’s first job in a kitchen was at Brennan’s in Houston, where she worked along Chris Shepherd and learned about Southern, Creole, and Texas cuisine. After four years at Brennan’s, Sarah moved to Chicago and Spiaggia and began to work with Tony Mantuano and Missy Robbins. Sarah quickly worked her way up from the line, to purchasing sous chef, to chef di cucina and to her current role as executive chef. Sarah’s culinary inspiration comes from all things Italian -- the culture, tradition, food, products, language and more.

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Meet the Chefs - Chris Jones

HOMETOWN: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
RESIDES: Chicago, IL
AGE: 30
PROFESSION: Chef de Cuisine, Moto Restaurant, Chicago
CULINARY EDUCATION: School of hard knocks – self-taught

At Moto, Chris has creative freedom and has implemented ingenious plates while never forgetting about presentation and more importantly, taste. Chris works closely with Chefs Homaro Cantu and Ben Roche, to develop cuisine that is innovative and revolutionary.

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Meet the Chefs - Richie Farina

HOMETOWN: Riverview, FL
RESIDES: Chicago, IL
AGE: 28
PROFESSION: Sous Chef, Moto Restaurant, Chicago

Richie is a sous chef at one of the most forward-thinking restaurants in the country, Moto in Chicago. Born in Staten Island, NY, he grew up in Florida in a large Italian family, so food has always played a big part in his life. Before going to Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, Richie began his culinary career flipping pizzas. While in school, he won the National Collegiate Ice Carving Championship three years in a row. He then went on to work in Boston for a few years honing his craft, before ending up in the Windy City. He inspires to create dishes never seen before and to make an experience instead of just food.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meet the Chefs - Chris Crary

RESIDES: Los Angeles, CA
AGE: 30
HOMETOWN: Bucyrus, Ohio – currently resides in Los Angeles, Calif.
PROFESSION: Chef de Cuisine, Whist Restaurant @ Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica
CULINARY EDUCATION: B.S. Culinary Arts, Johnson and Wales Univ.

Chris is the Chef de Cuisine for Whist restaurant at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica. Born in a small town in Ohio, Chris decided he wanted to venture into larger cities to follow his culinary passions. He attended Johnson &Wales University in both Norfolk, Virginia and Providence, Rhode Island where he received his Bachelors of Science degree in Culinary Arts. From there, he journeyed to California where he trained with his chef mentor Tony DiSalvo, former Executive Chef at Jean Georges in NYC. Chris incorporates Italian, Asian, and Spanish influences in his cooking, but never loses sight of the customer’s culinary journey. His focus is on flavor, texture, whimsy, and creating the most memorable dining experience possible. If he were given a last supper, he says, "It would have to include biscuits and gravy, to honor my southern roots. Who doesn't have a guilty pleasure of eating a plate of biscuits and sausage gravy?"

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Meet the Chefs - Ty-Lor Boring

HOMETOWN: Kansas City, MO
RESIDES: Brooklyn, NY
AGE: 34
PROFESSION: Black Ops, Almond Restaurants
CULINARY EDUCATION: A.O.S Culinary Arts, Seattle Culinary Academy/Seattle Central C.C., Seattle, WA, Certificates in Chocolate and Entremets, École Lenôtre, Plasir, France
FAVORITE SIMPLE FALL DESSERT RECIPE: Warm yeasted apple cake, smoked apple sap, hand whipped triple crème fraîche

Ty-Lör works Black Ops for locavore Almond Restaurants in New York. Born in Kansas City and trained in classic French and Asian cuisine, his style as a chef centers around the fusion of ingredients from the far east with seasonal farm to table emphasis. Ty-Lör is a master at creating simple, stunning dishes with a raw and sensual edge. He has traveled the world over learning different types of cuisines and melding those tastes in his own way. Of his favorite food he says, "I have had a lot of great meals in my day but the simple honest pleasures of street food make me happier than 16 courses of anything."

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Meet the Chefs - Nyesha Arrington

HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA (Panorama City)
AGE: 29
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Wilshire Restaurant, Santa Monica, CA
CULINARY EDUCATION: Art Institute of Los Angeles, CA

Arrington works as the new Executive Chef at Wilshire, one of Santa Monica’s most popular restaurants. Nyesha worked with her mentor, Josiah Citrin, at Mélisse in Santa Monica. Her resume also includes work with legendary French chef Joël Robuchon at his Michelin and Mobil award-winning Las Vegas restaurants, L’Atelier and The Mansion. With both master chefs, she feels fortunate to be guided by extremely talented cooks, who taught her a wide range of important skills in a very professional environment. Arrington, an ardent believer in using fresh, seasonal products, considers several important factors in creating her menu, including the weather, what’s in season, and the availability of locally-grown food. Nyesha comes from an artistic family; both her father and sister are musicians, and before pursuing a culinary career she aspired to be a sculptor. Her creative upbringing is reflected in Nyesha’s approach to cooking, which she considers an art.

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Reactions to Top Chef Texas Episode 1

Yay! Top Chef: The Mothership is back! This time, Tom, Padma, Gail and the gang are in the great state of Texas. Joining them are new permanent judges Emeril Lagasse and Hugh Acheson, plus twenty-nine hopefuls who think they are battling for the title of Top Chef.

In reality, they're competing for the ability to battle for the title of Top Chef.

In this episode, we see that the twenty-nine will eventually become 16 via a series of heats in which they compete head-to-head. Heats 1 and 2 gave us most of the chefs who continue in the competition, plus four chefs considered to be "on the bubble" because their dishes didn't quite measure up to the judges' exacting standards.

Next week, we'll get Heat 3 plus the bubble challenge. And presumably we'll get to the nitty-gritty in the weeks to come.

So what did you think of this rather grand format change? We'd love to read your opinions in a comment.

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